# (Reflexive)-transitive closures

## Of a relation

The transitive closure of a binary relation $\sim$ on a set $S$ is the smallest transitive relation that contains $\sim$.

Often one wants the reflexive-transitive closure $\sim^*$ of $\sim$, which is the smallest transitive relation that contains $\sim$ and is also reflexive.

These can be defined explicitly as follows: $x \sim^* y$ if and only if, for some natural number $n$, there exists a sequence $(r_0, \ldots, r_n)$ such that

$x = r_0 \sim \cdots \sim r_n = y .$

If you accept $0$ as a natural number, then this defines the reflexive-transitive closure; if not, then this defines the transitive closure.

For the transitive closure, it's also possible to rephrase the above slightly (using only $r_1$ through $r_{n-1}$) to avoid any reference to equality.

## Of a material set

In material set theory, the transitive closure of a pure set $X$ is the transitive set $X^*$ whose members are the elements of the downset of $X$ under the transitive closure (in the previous sense) of $\in$. That is, it consists of the members of $X$, their members, their members, and so on.

Analogously, the reflexive-transitive closure of $X$ may be defined as the transitive closure of the successor $X^+ = X \cup \{X\}$ of $X$, which is the same as $X^* \cup \{X\}$.

Revised on September 3, 2012 21:04:50 by Toby Bartels (98.23.143.147)